Challenges and success factors for cross-border public participation in the site selection process (HErüber)

The Standortauswahlgesetz (StandAG), a german law defining the selection process, regulates the individual procedural steps for a scientifically based, participatory and transparent search for a secure disposal site for high-level radioactive waste. The result should be supported by a broad social consensus; those affected should be able to tolerate the outcome.

The Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Disposal coordinates and monitors the site search and is responsible for public participation. It creates the foundations and framework conditions for involving the public in the search for sites via formal and informal participation procedures.

The site selection procedure takes place in three stages: 1) definition of subareas and suitable siting regions on the basis of existing geoscientific data; 2) above-ground exploration and identification of suitable sites; 3) underground exploration and site decision. For Germany, as the European country with the most neighboring countries, it is likely that some of the subareas, siting regions and potential sites defined in the selection procedure are located on or in the immediate vicinity of one or more national borders. In the case of the construction of a repository for high-level radioactive waste, however, “concern” does not stop at national borders, so that the public (citizens* and other stakeholders) from neighbouring countries must be involved in the participation processes at an early stage and on an ongoing basis.

In order to adequately involve the public of the neighboring countries in the participation processes, the BASE must be familiar with the specific requirements of cross-border participation processes so that it can take them into account in its participation concepts.

The aim of the HErüber research project is therefore to identify these specific challenges. Based on a literature review and the analysis of legal requirements, past cases of transnational participation will be examined in more detail. Thus, their prerequisites, framework conditions and success factors can be identified and transferred to the concrete case of the search for a repository site for high-level radioactive waste. Furthermore, the project will also focus on various political and cultural aspects and possible expectations.